written by kudzu brands | photography by ryan theede
This is the story of how dynamic duo, Sean and Laura Sullivan, aligned their individual passions and expertise to curate a superior home building and living experience in the magnificent Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
Sean is a custom home builder with over 24 years of experience in the industry who successfully owns and operates Living Stone Design + Build. As one of the leading custom home design + build firms in the area, Living Stone consistently crafts many award-winning custom homes and always goes beyond client expectations. All of Living Stone’s builds are green by design, with every element mindfully selected for the client’s long-term health and happiness.
Laura is an interior designer with over 14 years of experience. She successfully owns and operates ID.ology Interiors & Design, providing a holistic approach to interior design and furnishings. ID.ology partners with homeowners to create beautiful and intentional living spaces.
She also works alongside those who are preparing for their future home, and their builders, to make key design decisions before the building process is complete. Laura and her all-female team understand that creating a beautiful, custom home is a constantly evolving journey.
Wellness Within Your Walls
What does it mean when a builder says that they build “green”? Jillian Pritchard Cooke, the founder of Wellness Within Your Walls, provides some insight into the true meaning of being green. She explained that, while a crucial component of being green is the sustainable use of resources and having a low environmental impact, a larger part, that is often overlooked, considers the health of the residents.
According to the EPA, indoor environments are typically two to five times more toxic than the outdoors. Standard home building materials such as adhesives and finishes contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Especially for energy efficient homes with tight envelopes, these toxic vapors remain in the home and can cause health problems over time. On the other hand, statistics show that people who live in green homes are happier, healthier and more productive than those in non-green homes.
In response to this problem, Wellness Within Your Walls has taken a holistic approach to health and wellness in the building industry by certifying and promoting healthy eco-sensitive products that result in beautiful, sustainable, non-toxic environments.
There are some misconceptions about the meaning of building and living green. One of the biggest is about the word “natural.”
Many believe this word means that a product is safe to use or eat, but this usually isn’t the case. For example, radon, lead, and mold are all naturally-occurring but are highly toxic. Another misconception is the belief that if a home is built in a healthy way, then a healthy environment is ensured. However, it’s really up to the homeowner to maintain a clean home through behavioral strategies.
Jillian recalls that Sean and Laura were some of the first people to become WWYW certified because they made health and wellness in the home a priority. They understand how important it is to ensure that one’s home isn’t just “green”, but that the homeowner’s health and wellness are considered throughout the design process.
They also know the importance of maintaining the long-term indoor health of a build long after it has been finished. They’ve implemented this by suggesting behavioral strategies, such as using non-toxic cleaners, locking up chemicals, cleaning vents and ductwork regularly, removing shoes and doing a deep clean twice a year.
Clients can use these strategies to responsibly maintain a natural and healthy environment for years to come.
A Dream Materialized
Cindy Sennett came to Living Stone with a simple vision of what she wanted for her future home. She had never built a custom home before and admits that she found many aspects to be daunting.
She was less concerned about the home’s details and more interested in the need to have space and a layout for a very large family to visit and share time together. She sought to have a contemporary space that was also warm and comfortable, with a good balance between wood and glass.
The most important element for her was the outdoor living space, which came to life with artfully designed sundecks, an outdoor kitchen and fireplace, and an infinity edged pool and spa that was designed to feel like it overhangs the mountain.
After Sean created a frame and style for the home based on Cindy’s vision and after meeting with ID.ology to consider improvements and finishes, the concept was presented. Through the various phases of construction, Cindy began to see her idea come to life, which was the most exciting part of the entire process.
Given that the Sennett Home was built on a very steep mountain, the design process required a lot of careful planning and expert engineering. This home is truly a feat of engineering, design, building, and innovation and took the collaboration of the Living Stone and ID.ology teams to masterfully execute.
At the end of the day, Cindy didn’t just end up with her dream home, she ended up with a healthy home, a new appreciation for the building process, and new friends.
Sean and Laura are taking their dedication to beautiful, happy and healthy homes a step further with a new home furnishings destination that will be opening in late 2019. Atelier Maison will be located in an expansive showroom in the Biltmore Village area in Asheville and will feature custom, healthy and quality brand name furnishings along with accessory items such as pillows, lighting, rugs, linens and art.
The products will be in line with Living Stone and ID.ology’s values around healthy, green living and an abundance of furnishings created from healthy fabrics and materials.
The duo is developing Atelier Maison with the mission to infuse vitality (an acronym for Value, Integrity, Timeliness, Artisan, Loyalty, Individuality, Trust and Youthful energy) into homes and to uniquely create, customize and craft furnishings to enhance lifestyle and individuality.
Shopping at Atelier Maison isn’t going to be your typical shopping trip. This unparalleled furniture experience features hands-on design concierge services, high-quality, healthy furniture and accessories, and monthly warehouse sale events that highlight music, food trucks, an outdoor movie theatre, pet park, live performances and much more.
Living Stone and ID.ology will be located on either side of Atelier Maison so that Sean and Laura can provide a full-service approach to designing, building and furnishing a home from one location. In this way, they will be able to truly take clients through the custom home design + build journey and turn their clients’ visions into reality.